By Czarina Ong Ki
The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division has denied the motion for leave to file a demurrer to evidence filed by Philippine National Police (PNP) Superintendents Elizabeth Milanes and Digna Ambas, together with private individual Edgar Indiongco, seeking to quash their four graft charges.
They were earlier slapped with four violations of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for allowing Indiongco to operate his private medical laboratory called E. Indiongco Diagnostic Laboratory inside the premises of the PNP Regional Health Service 3 in Camp Olivas, San Fernando, Pampanga.
They allowed Indiongco to do so even though the laboratory did not undergo the proper process of procurement. Space was even used free of rent, and several applicants were disqualified by his laboratory and not given their medical results even though other government and private doctors gave contrary findings.
Because of the actions of Milanes and Ambas, Indiongco was able to collect payments from the applicants amounting to P1,868,050.
Filing a demurrer to evidence is an act contesting that the prosecution’s evidence is insufficient to render a guilty verdict.
In her motion for leave to file a demurrer, Milanes said that the complainant, Manuel Lukban, was not the one who personally conducted the investigation. He merely relied on reports and sworn statements, and he did not verify whether the medical certificates submitted by the PNP applicants were authentic.
Milanes added that no evidence was presented that Indiongco was occupying a 10-square meter space inside RHS3 without paying rent.
Olivares-Ambas, on the other hand, stressed that the testimonies of the witnesses and the documentary evidence failed to prove how she acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence.
She said no proof was introduced as to how they allowed Indiongco to stay within their premises without any payment, and how undue injury was caused to the government or to RHS3-PNP in particular.
Meanwhile, Indiongco said that his laboratory duly performed its services and the alleged manipulation of the medical screening was “simply taken from the favorable results obtained by the disqualified PNP applicants/recruits from other hospitals.”
He added that the discrepancy of the results did not automatically mean there was manipulation conducted.
However, the anti-graft court found that their motions failed. “The grounds alleged in the motions are best considered when the cases are submitted for judgment. They already call for an appreciation of the probative worth of the testimonial and documentary evidence presented by the prosecution,” the resolution stated.
“For now, this Court cannot yet be obscured by such talk,” it added.
The court ruled that their motions for leave to file a demurrer to evidence failed to show how the prosecution’s evidence is insufficient, and they centered more on assuming the value and weight of the testimonies or on what has not been allegedly proven.
The resolution was penned by Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta with the concurrence of Associate Justices Zaldy Trespeses and Georgina Hidalgo.